Mainly Mozart returns for 21st season to Miami

Arts / Article

Marina Radiushina, artistic director of the Mainly Mozart Festival.

This weekend is a big one for Miami classical music, not least because it marks the return of the Mainly Mozart Festival for a 21st season, now fully under the direction of the Miami Chamber Music Society.

Last year, the new group, led by the Ukrainian-American pianist Marina Radiushina and Coral Gables-based attorney Mike Eidson, took the Mainly Mozart reins with a remarkable performance on Father’s Day of chamber music, presented with excellent video program notes and a fine new dance work by Miami City Ballet dancer Adriana Pearce.

The lineup for this year includes 11 concerts featuring everything from solo performances to opera to string quartets, and will be presented primarily at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, with the June 22 finale at the Knight Concert Hall in the Adrienne Arsht Center.

It opens this Sunday at 4 p.m. in the Biltmore’s Alhambra Ballroom with choral music. Bass-baritone Graham Fandrei, a familiar South Florida face, will join the University of Miami’s Donald Oglesby and his Collegium Musicum for Mozart’s Ave verum corpus and selections from the Requiem, along with J.S. Bach’s haunting cantata, Ich habe genug.

Five of the Florida Grand Opera’s Young Artists are next at 6 p.m. May 4 in the Biltmore’s Granada Ballroom, singing a vocal recital with Radiushina at the piano. The featured singers are sopranos Betsy Diaz, Rebecca Henriques and Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste (just seen as the title character in FGO’s Tosca earlier this month), tenor Casey Hinnegan and baritone Thomas Lehman.

Two string quartets take the stage for the next two weeks, with the Sona String Quartet at 4 p.m. May 11 in the Biltmore’s Danielson Gallery for music of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Brahms and Arni Egilsson. Bass Brian Powell and violinist Tinka Belinschi also will be featured in the concert.

Palm Beach County’s Delray String Quartet arrives at 4 p.m. May 18 in the Granada Ballroom at the Biltmore for music by Mozart, Antonio Salieri (unfortunately forever erroneously portrayed in popular media as a scheming rival of Mozart; the real story is far different), and West Palm Beach’s own Richard Danielpour, who has written much agreeable and popular music.

Pianist Dmitri Levkovich performs at 4 p.m. May 25 in the Danielson Gallery in the Op. 23 preludes of Rachmaninov, Beethoven’s Appassionata sonata (No. 23 in F minor, Op. 57), Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise (Op. 22), a sonata by Scarlatti, and the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue.

The veteran Amernet String Quartet is next, at 4 p.m. June 1 in the Danielson Gallery with the Divertimento (in E-flat K. 563) of Mozart, and works by Antonin Dvořák and Anton Webern. The Mozart is actually a string trio, rarely heard these days, but written at the same time as his last great symphonies in the year 1788.

Violinist Eli Matthews, who debuted with Mainly Mozart last year, returns at 4 p.m. June 8 to the Granada Ballroom, where he will join Radiushina and guitarist Federico Bonacossa for a program of music for violin, piano and guitar.

Another fine area string quartet, the Bergonzi, is featured at 4 p.m. June 15 in the Granada Ballroom for the Mozart Horn Quintet (in E-flat, K. 407), with soloist Richard Todd, and the Schubert Death and the Maiden Quartet (No. 14 in D minor, D. 810); violinist Tinka Belinschi also will be joining the program.

There are two Saturday family concerts on the bill as well, with the Sona String Quartet at Biltmore’s GableStage at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 31, and at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 7, the Miami Children’s Chorus and the Greater Miami Youth Symphony perform under the direction of Timothy Sharp.

The finale, set for 4 p.m. Sunday, June 22, at the Knight Concert Hall, will feature Radiushina and two excellent soloists: Canadian violinist Susanne Hou and Israeli cellist Amit Peled. The three will be joined by dancers of the Miami City Ballet, in a repeat of last year’s successful marriage of music and dance.

This looks to be a first-rate assemblage of music for the late spring and early summer, one that spotlights South Florida’s marvelous classical music community, and that will be a worthy exemplar of this special festival as it begins its 21st season.

For tickets and more information, visit, call 786-556-1715, or send an email to [email protected]